Our Operations


Operations in Kargil

The IAF was first approached to provide air support on 11 May 99 with the use of helicopters. This was followed by a go ahead given on 25 May by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to the IAF to mount attacks on the infiltrators without crossing the LoC. While there was considerable pressure from outside the IAF to operate only attack helicopters, the CAS succeeded in convincing the Govt that in order to create a suitable environment for the helicopters, fighter action was required.

Operation Safedsagar, as the air operations in the Kargil area were called, was, indeed, a milestone in the history of military aviation, as this was the first time that air power was employed in such an environment.

Effect of Environment

High altitude operations always come with challenges like severe degradation of aircraft and weapon performance. At high altitudes, a crucial factor in aircraft performance is the reserve of power available, which, for the MiG and Mirage fleets, was a strong point in their favor. 

Due to the very different attributes of the atmosphere, even weapons do not perform as per sea-level specifications. Variations in air temperature and density, altering drag indices and a host of other factors (which have never been calculated by any manufacturer for this type of altitude) cause weapons to go off their mark; for the same reasons, normally reliable computerised weapon aiming devices give inaccurate results.

In the plains, a 1000 pounder bomb landing 25 yards away from the target would still severely disable, if not flatten, it. In the mountains, however, a miss of a few yards would be as good as the proverbial mile, due to the undulating terrain and masking effects. In addition, due to the variation in elevation the "miss" would be greatly magnified in the linear dimension, further exaggerating the "inaccuracy" of the weapon/delivery. While this would lead to apparent inaccuracies in weapon delivery, there is, thus, a need for pinpoint accuracy in conditions where that very attribute is severely degraded by the factors mentioned above.

The First Few Days

The loss of one fighter and one Mi-17 chopper to enemy action indicated the need for a change of tactics, resulting in withdrawal of armed helicopters and employment of fighters in modified profiles out of the Stinger SAM envelope. By itself, the change of tactics is nothing unusual, and is an inherent part of the qualities of flexibility and adaptability; in fact, a far more serious lapse would be a dogged tendency to persist in sacrificing assets when, clearly, there was a need for a re-assessment. It is, perhaps for this reason that NATO, after deploying 100 Apache attack helicopters in Greece, reconsidered bringing them into Kosovo till the shooting was over, as they felt the environment didn't justify it. Unfortunately, IAF Mi-25/35 attack helicopters were not able to operate in this terrain.

One of the many facts that have emerged clearly is that target acquisition by the pilot is the bottom line. Totally unfamiliar surroundings in the Kargil area made target recognition difficult from the ground, let alone from a fast moving aircraft. As a result, the initial few sorties from high levels were not effective as desired. However, once revised and modified profiles, tactics and manner of system usage had been perfected, the accuracy of the airstrikes improved dramatically. Any time the target was spotted, a very high success rate invariably resulted.

Air Reconnaissance And Battle Damage Assessment : Crucial Aspects Of An Air War

The picture one normally associates with airstrikes emphasises helmeted pilots starting up their aircraft, flying to the target in the teeth of intense anti-aircraft fire and battling their way through hordes of enemy fighters to press home their attacks despite superhuman odds. In all fairness, that's the way it actually happened until the Second World War - the famous 1000 bomber raids over Germany, with the US 8th Air Force flying by day and the RAF by night, at a terrible cost in lives and machines.

Even at that time, though, the "back-room boys", that anonymous bunch of faceless experts who lived their lives poring over reconnaissance (recce) photographs, noting detail after painstaking detail, provided the target information that ultimately formed the basis of the bombing missions.

Three Main Steps in Neutralising a Target.

Far from being an off-the-cuff quick reaction affair, each airstrike is the end result of a carefully planned chain of events spanning several areas of specialisation. Broadly speaking, an airstrike would have the following components:-

(a) Recce mission(s).

(b) Airstrike mission(s).

(c) Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) mission(s).

(d) If so dictated by results of BDA, or by follow-up recce, repeated airstrikes.

The Increasing Effects of Airstrikes

As a result of these attacks, severe damage to enemy personnel and equipment became apparent in various areas. It is surmised that airstrikes contributed to a significant portion of the enemy's casualty list, as apparent in the numbers. However, the most telling effects on the ground were from intercepts of enemy radio revealing severe shortages of rations, water, medicines and ammunition. Losses due to airstrikes and inability to evacuate their casualties were also mentioned in the intercepts. This was the actual manifestation on the ground of the result of effective airstrikes by the IAF. The effect of accurate attacks is best summed up by a message received from one of the HQ of the Indian Army.......

"You guys have done a wonderful job. Your Mirage boys with their precision laser guided bombs targeted an enemy Battalion HQ in the Tiger Hill area with tremendous success. Five Pakistani officers were reported killed in that attack and their Command and Control broke down - as a result of which our troops have literally walked over the entire Tiger Hills area. The enemy is on the run. They are on the run in other sectors also. At this rate the end of the conflict may come soon."

IAF Air Strikes : the Results

IAF air strikes against enemy supply camps and other targets yielded rich dividends. A noteworthy fact is that there was not a single operation on ground that was not preceded by airstrikes, each and every one of which was the result of coordinated planning between 15 Corps and the AOC, J&K. However, one of the valuable lessons that emerged was the need for joint Army-Air Force planning and consultations from the very beginning, where the Air Force would be able to contribute by rendering advice on targeting which could, at the very outset, be incorporated into the Army plan of ground operations. This would prove far more effective than a case where the Army proceeded as per its own plans made earlier in isolation, and called for air support when they felt it was required.

Firstly, in the area of interdiction of enemy supplies, the successful and incessant attacks on the enemy's logistic machine had, over the last few weeks, culminated in a serious degradation of the enemy's ability to sustain himself in an increasing number of areas. The series of attacks against Pt 4388 in the Dras sector was an excellent example of how lethal airstrikes combined with timely reconnaissance detected the enemy plans to shift to alternate supply routes which were once again effectively attacked. In this the IAF succeeded in strangling the enemy supply arteries, amply testified to by enemy radio intercepts. The primacy of interdiction targets as opposed to Battlefield Air Strikes (BAS) targets was clearly brought out, as also the fact that air power is not to be frittered away on insignificant targets like machine gun posts and trenches, but on large targets of consequence (like the supply camp at Muntho Dhalo, enemy Battalion HQ on top of Tiger Hill, etc). Gone are the days of fighters screaming in at deck level, acting as a piece of extended artillery. The air defence environment of today's battlefield just does not permit such employment of airpower anymore, a significant fact that needs to be understood by soldier and civilian alike.

The second major impact of air power in this operation was in the area of casualties. Normally, an enemy defending a well fortified position (in this case, Pakistan) suffers between 3-6 times less casualties than does the force on the offensive. However, this operation has seen the reverse, with the enemy casualties far in excess of those suffered by us. One significant fact must not be lost sight of; of the two warring sides, it is the Pakistani Army that suffered air strikes, which, obviously, contributed significantly to its casualties. It is felt that without the use of air power, our own casualties could have approached if not exceeded four figures.

The third aspect is that of attack chopper operations. IAF dedicated attack choppers like the Mi-35 were incapable of operating at that altitude, which prompted the use of armed and modified Mi-17s for the role. Besides the capability of the machine itself vis-a-vis the area of operation, the creation of the right air defence environment is a crucial factor which would determine the employment of this platform. Effectiveness versus vulnerability would need to be examined; during Op Safedsagar, the abundance of man portable SAMs in all enemy-held areas precluded the effective employment of attack choppers. As a result, whether Army or IAF, choppers were constrained to operate in SAM-free areas. Nevertheless, IAF Cheetahs were instrumental in carrying out front line roles like providing a platform for the Airborne Forward Air Controller (FAC), a fighter pilot who guides the fighters in to the attack against ground targets.

The fourth major impact of air power is in the enormous difference it made to the ground operations, no better example of which exists than the message from the HQ of a field Army unit, (shown in italics above) stating that " as a result of the precision airstrikes on Tiger Hills our troops have literally walked over the entire Tiger Hills area. The enemy is on the run.."

Fifthly, night operations were carried out using ingenuity and imagination; at times, excellent results were achieved by aircraft like MiG-21s using little else but a stop watch and a GPS receiver. These operations had a significant effect on the enemy's resilience, stamina and very will to fight.

Sixthly, the effort put into air defence escorts and area Combat Air Patrolling by day as well as night proved an effective deterrent which ensured total air superiority. At times, PAF F-16s orbited a scant 15 kms (on their own side of the LOC) from our strike formations attacking Pakistani targets, kept at bay by our own air defence fighters flying a protective pattern above the strike.

The seventh aspect is the high degree of imagination, flexibility and IAF-Army coordination which marked every phase of the operation.

In the final analysis, the effective application of air power has indisputably saved further casualties as well as compressed considerably the timeframe in which our Army has made such progress on the ground. In this context, the basic functions of air power have been repeated, though on a much larger scale, when compared to the IAF's operations in this area during 1947-48, when IAF Tempests carried out strafing and rocket attacks on the intruders and Dakotas ferried in as well as paradropped troops and supplies. As then and now, when called upon by the nation the IAF has joined as an equal partner to the Army to meet the national objective.

Almost from the very beginning of the operations, IAF intellects were busy ticking over in a near constant brain-storming session aimed at deriving lessons from Operation Safedsagar. Being an ongoing process, the immense experience gained from this operation would stand in good stead in the times to come. These lessons would be applicable to all the world's Air Forces, for it is the first time in the history of military aviation that such an air operation took place in such an environment. While conventional long-accepted air power theories no longer held good, a new set of operating paradigms had to be evolved almost overnight to cope with the situation.

This is the first time the IAF fought a limited war, hitherto thought to be an unlikely eventuality, as air power and escalation to an all-out war were thought to be synonymous. The deterrent effect of air power has been enhanced by this fact, as the prospect of decisive air action is now a proven possibility in even a Low Intensity Conflict situation.

Operation Safedsagar was, therefore, a turning point in the history of military aviation, and an operation that will, no doubt, be discussed and dissected for the next few years.

OPS 1971
OPS 1971
From early 1971, as the political situation on the sub-continent deteriorated, the IAF was alerted to the possibility of another armed conflict. For some weeks in November, both Indian and Pakistan governments protested violations of national airspace along the western border, but aerial conflict between the respective air arms began in earnest on 22 November, preceding full-scale warfare between India and Pakistan by 12 days. At 1449 hours, four Pakistani Sabres strafed Indian and Mukti Bahini positions in the Chowgacha Mor area, and 10 minutes later, while engaged on a third strafing run, the Sabres were intercepted by four Gnats from No. 22 Sqn, a detachment of which was operating from Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta. 

During the ensuing melee, three of the Sabres were shot down, all Gnats returning to base unscathed. The first blood of a new Indo-Pakistan air war had been drawn. Other encounters were to follow over the next 10 days, within both Indian and Pakistani airspace, before full-scale war began on 3 December. Pre-emptive strikes were launched by the Pakistan Air Force against IAF bases. Apart from IAF bases, the PAF attacked railway stations, Indian armour concentrations and other targets. In response and during the ensuing two weeks, the IAF carried out some 4,000 sorties in the West from major and forward bases in Jammu, Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan, while, in the East, a further 1,978 sorties were flown. 

Throughout the conflict the IAF established a highly credible serviceability rate which exceeded 80 per cent. Mission emphasis throughout was on interdiction. In the West the IAF's primary tasks were disruption of enemy communications, the destruction of fuel and ammunition reserves, and the prevention of any ground force concentrations so that no major offensive could be mounted against India while Indian forces were primarily engaged in the East. On the Eastern front, the Indian forces launched a sophisticated campaign which included rapid-moving infantry and armour advancing from three directions, airborne and heliborne assaults, missile bombardments from ships and an amphibious landing, the IAF's task being primarily direct support of the ground forces. In a classic air action in the Western desert, four Hunters of the OCU, detachment at Jaisalmer destroyed an entire armoured regiment at Longewala, literally stopping the enemy offensive in its tracks. 

The IAF had good reason for satisfaction with its showing during the December 1971 conflict. Although Pakistan had initiated the war with pre-emptive air strikes against major forward air bases, the IAF rapidly gained the initiative and had thereafter dominated the skies over both fronts. Admittedly, there had to be war losses but the IAF flew many more sorties than its opponent with interdiction missions predominating, and the bulk of the Service's attrition was the result of intensive anti-aircraft fire; in aerial combat, the IAF proved its superiority in no uncertain manner. 

The special characteristic of 1971 War was the complete coordination and co-operation achieved among the three arms of India’s Defence Forces. This, more than anything else, made the lightning campaign leading to the liberation of Bangladesh, look so effortless. 

Notwithstanding the successful campaign of December 1971 which created both history and geography, the Indian Air Force had lessons to draw from subsequent analyses of the conflict, although for the most part, these lessons dictated refinement rather than any fundamental change. 

The 14 day war was IAF’s finest hour. It proved the efficacy of India’s Air Power in the subcontinent. The end of the war resulted in creation of Bangladesh and subsequently signing of the Simla Agreement with Pakistan on Kashmir. IAF personnel were awarded 01 Param Vir Chakra, 13 Maha Vir Chakras and 113 Vir Chakras for their heroic performance in the war. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to IAF’s contribution in the war came from Lt Gen AAK Niazi, Commander of the Pakistani forces in the East. When asked by a senior IAF officer about the reason for his surrender when most of his army was intact, he walked up to this officer, pointed at the wings on his uniform and said, “because of this, you, the Indian Air Force.” 

2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the glorious victory of India over Pakistan and is thus being celebrated as Swarnim Vijay Varsh.

Website- Swarnim Vijay Varsh 

OPS 1965
OPS 1965
On 01 Sep 1965, Marshal of the Indian Air Force (MIAF) Arjan Singh , then the Chief of the Air Staff, ordered air strikes against the Pakistan Forces. Just before sunset of 01 Sep 1965, after meeting the Defence Minister of India, 26 fighter bombers consisting of 12 Vampire aircraft of No. 45 and 220 Squadrons and 14 Mystere aircraft of No. 3 and 31 Sqn took off from Pathankot for the Chhamb Sector. The mission marked the start of the air action against belligerence by Pakistan. Just before 1800hrs, the first IAF aircraft struck the Pakistani Patton Tanks. On this day, IAF accounted for 10 tanks, 02 Anti-Aircraft guns and 30-40 vehicles of the Pakistani Army.
 In the words of WM ‘Jim’ Goodman (CO 31 Sqn), “Our boys were in like a flash and in no time the whole place was ablaze with burning enemy tanks and vehicles. The morale of our force was just wonderful…. I am sure the enemy will never forget the Mystere.”

On 02 Sep 1965, IAF aircraft carried out fighter sweeps & the Mystere aircraft carried out photo recce sorties in the Chhamb sector. 23 Sqn equipped with Gnat fighter aircraft, based at Ambala, were deployed at Pathankot.
On 03 Sep 1965, IAF Claimed its First Air to Air Kill. Sqn Ldr Trevor Keelor shoots down a Pakistani Sabre Jet F-86F aircraft in the Chhamb sector flying in his light weight Gnat fighter aircraft. Four Gnats led by Sqn Ldr Trevor Keelor, flying in a tactical formation at low level (barely 100 feet above ground), were heading towards the combat zone in Chhamb sector. As the formation was crossing Akhnoor Bridge, the controlling RADAR reported enemy aerial activity.
 On receipt of the information, the Gnats zoomed up to 30,000 ft in less than 90 sec and scanned the area for intruders.
 Sqn Ldr Keelor picked up a pair of PAF F-86F Sabre Jets, he maneuvered his formation to get behind the enemy aircraft. As the turn was completed, Keelor was in a perfect position to close in and destroy the target. He opened fire with his twin 30 mm Cannon guns from a distance of 450 yards, closing in, to 200 yards. In an instant, the sabre’s right wing disintegrated and the enemy aircraft fell from the sky. 
The IAF claimed its first aerial kill and Sqn Ldr Keelor became the first Indian Pilot to claim a jet in air-to-air combat.
 On 04 Sep 1965, Flt Lt V. S. Pathania flying a Gnat aircraft shot down a second PAF Sabre Jet aircraft over the Chhamb sector. While escorting a Mystere formation over Chhamb area, the escorts spotted four Sabres. The Sabres were intercepted by the Gnats. Flying at a height of about 100 ft Flt Lt Pathania maneuvered to get in firing position behind the accelerating PAF Sabre aircraft, closing into a distance of less than 500 meters Pathania opened fire and achieved a direct hit on to the enemy Sabre. The aircraft was seen going down with thick smoke. This was the second aerial kill by IAF.
The valour & courage of IAF personnel was on a constant display during the operations & it proved, men matter more than the machines.
 Till 05 Sep 1965, IAF had not committed any other aircraft beyond the Mysteres, Vampires and Gnats at Pathankot. Being based entirely at Halwara and Palam, the Hunters had not seen any action. The same was not true for the Canberras. Unknown to the Pakistanis and to many, even on the Indian side, a lone Canberra Photo Recce (PR) was being flown regularly by an intrepid pilot over key Pakistani locations for photographic information. The pilot who undertook the operations was Sqn Ldr Jag Mohan Nath, a veteran of the 1962 Ops. The PR mission was planned and executed to gather information for the impending Indian Army move across the international border. The army needed information not only on the fortifications and bridges but also on the degree of preparedness of Pakistani Army formations. 
The unescorted missions, which were in the nature of reconnaissance, entailed flying long distances over enemy territory and well-defended airfields and installations during daylight. The information gathered by these missions enabled the Indian Air Force to attack vital enemy targets which, in turn, adversely affected the enemy’s war effort. Sqn Ldr Nath was awarded Bar to Maha Vir Chakra for displaying courage, determination and devotion to duty.
 On 6th Sep 1965 the PAF carried out pre-emptive strikes on IAF bases. The intent was to degrade the Indian Air Arm at the start of hostilities. But, 07 Sep marked the beginning of a new phase in the employment of air power. The IAF carried out retaliatory counter air strikes over the PAF bases of Sargodha, Chhota Sargodha, Bhagatanwala, Pasrur, Rahwali and Chaklala. While the first strike on Sargodha was mounted by seven Mysteres of 01 Sqn (The Tigers) led by Wg Cdr OP Taneja, 08 Sqn  simultaneously attacked the air bases at Bhagatanwala in the vicinity.
 On 07th Sep 65, four Sabres were picked up on radar by 55 SU and Flt Lt Alfred Cooke and Fg Offr Mamgain, who were on Combat Air Petrol (CAP) missions 60 miles north of Kalaikunda (KKD) airbase, were vectored towards the intruders.
 As Cooke and Mamgain arrived over KKD, they saw the Sabres in attack and they both split up and proceeded to tackle the Sabres. In an extremely low level dog fight that ensued, (later proven from the gun camera film), Cooke fired at four different Sabres. One crashed close to KKD and the other three that managed to escape were rendered unworthy of battle, (one having crashed just across the border). Cooke and Mamgain were both awarded Vir Chakra (VrC) for their valiant effort.
The first mission flown on 08 Sep was by four Hunters of 20 Sqn getting airborne at 1800hr. Their target was the Raiwind railway yard. Menon, Khullar, Bishnoi and Negi on reaching the Yard found an ammunition train loaded with tanks. Without any opposition they carried out a perfect attack totally devastating the yard and the train. With ammunition still left, they also targeted armoured columns near Kasur.
 Mysteres from 8 Sqn also found their mark at interdiction targets at Pasrur, Sialkot and Chhamb sector. Flt Lt Jimmy Bhatia distinguished himself on that day. His Vir Chakra (VrC) citation mentioned his exploits of the day in great detail.
 The thirteenth of September saw another first in the war. PAF had moved the bulk of its forces to the rear base of Peshawar. Targeting Peshawar was doomed to be ill-fated, either by day or by night. This was due to the limited range and endurance of the bombers, coupled with large exposure time and PAF’s night interception capability aircraft, F-104.
 However, a daring plan was put together and on the night of 13 Sep, six Canberras of No.5 Squadron, navigating with minimal tactical routing and at very low levels, ripped across the heartland of Pakistan. Coming close to their target, they pulled up to their drop height of 10,000 ft. Leading the raid was Sqn Ldr JC Verma with Flt Lt Dastidar as his navigator; the pathfinder who would drop the target indicator bomb was Sqn Ldr Gautam with Flt Lt SN Deshpande as his navigator. Gautam did his job perfectly and the other Canberras thereafter proceeded to engage targets including the Runway, a Bulk Petroleum Installation, Aircraft on ground and other ground facilities.
 As they exited the target area, they were bounced by a Starfighter. Expecting the worst, the Canberras with night as their ally, carried out evasive manoeuvres. A Sidewinder was launched by the Starfighter, however, providence was on the side of the Canberras and this missile missed its mark. All aircraft returned safely back to Agra imprinting a fear that nothing was beyond the reach of the IAF.
 The Gnat Squadrons were tasked to fly CAP missions and escort the Hunters and Mysteres on their Operational Missions. The ‘Sabre Slayers’ of 23 Squadron, as if trying to break out of routine monotony, planned an offensive strike to strafe Pakistani ground troops and posts near Lahore. Sqn Ldr AJS Sandhu and his formation of four Gnats took off and headed south towards Lahore. Moments later, the Amritsar radar warned them of six Sabres airborne towards the Gnats.
 The Gnats at low level, spotting the Sabres at approximately 20,000 ft, immediately commenced a climbing turn and engaged them. Sabre, in combat with Sandhu, having decided to exit, carried out a steep dive. Not the one to let his opponent escape, Sandhu followed him down to low levels and shot him down with a well-aimed volley from his cannon. This was the 3rd Sabre downed by 23 Squadron.
 The Keelor brothers have the unique distinction of flying the same kind of combat aircraft from different Squadrons and also claiming kills in the same war. Sqn Ldr Denzil Keelor and Fg Offr Munna Rai in one section with Flt Lt Vinay Kapila and Flt Lt Vijay Mayadev in the other were part of a four aircraft Gnat formation, launched as escorts to Mysteres of No.1 Squadron. The target was Chawinda and as they approached at low level, they were welcomed by anti- aircraft (AA) gun fire and Sabre aircraft. The Gnats spotted the Sabres and turned to engage. During the ensuing combat, Keelor manoeuvred well and coming within gun firing range, let go a volley of fire and broke off from the attack. Kapila too closed in and furthered the damage on the enemy aircraft. Fatally damaged, the Sabre crashed just short of Sargodha. In a first for the IAF, brothers Denzil and Trevor Keelor won the Vir Chakra for identical achievements.
 The Mystere aircraft in this war proved extremely effective especially during low level ground attack. Its large armament capacity, particularly its belly launcher with 55 mm rocket pod caused widespread destruction of the enemy’s tanks, armoured vehicles, guns, bridges, trains and troops concentrations.
On 9 September, Flight Lieutenant Trilochan Singh of No.3 Squadron destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles near Chawinda. He was awarded Vir Chakra for his daring and valuable performance.
 Gnat aircraft of No. 9, 23 and 45 squadrons played a very significant role during the operations:
(a) To escort fighter-bomber aircraft on their Ops missions.
(b) To carry out patrolling of Indian skies.
(c) Air Defence of airfields (On ORP duties)
In an aerial battle on 19 September 1965, No.9 Squadron pilots shot down two Sabre Jets-one was shot down by Squadron Leader Keelor and the second by Flight Lieutenant Kapila. With these kills total seven Sabre jets and one Star fighter aircraft were shot down against two of Gnats.
 The Hunters Jet fighter-bomber aircraft of No.7, 20 and 27 Sqns proved extremely effective in this war. In Asal Uttar, Hunter aircraft deployed for ground attack roles proved most effective and successful; they destroyed a number of Patton tanks and armoured vehicles of the enemy. During the aerial combat with the enemy Jets, they shot down six Sabre Jets.
 Finally, there was a ceasefire on 23 September 1965 and both India and Pakistan accepted the armistice. In the war, the Indian Air Force achieved great success despite the superiority of Pakistani aircraft. The Indian army captured Pakistani territory on most of the fronts. In the Sialkot area itself, they captured 180 sq km territory and were only four km away from Sialkot by the time they declared ceasefire. Similarly, on the other front they were very close to Lahore. The Indian Air Force and Army troops destroyed around 450 Pakistani tanks and captured 38 tanks in serviceable condition. In the aerial battles with the Pakistan Air Force, the IAF shot down 73 Pakistani aircraft with the loss of 35 aircraft.

OPS 1962
OPS 1962
In 1962, a war broke out between India and China. While the disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext of the war, other underlying issues also played a vital role. There had been a series of armed border skirmishes after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. This, coupled with the inability of the nations to reach a political accommodation over the disputed territory along the 3225 km long Himalayan border gave the Chinese an excuse to launch an offensive into Indian territory.
In October of 1962, Scorpios were operating Dassault Ouragan (Toofani) from Tezpur, under the command of the third Commanding Officer, Sqn Ldr E D’ Souza. Towards the beginning of the month, the Squadron heightened its level of preparedness and observed a couple of maintenance days to increase the serviceability state of the aircraft. With hostilities with China looming over the horizon, the Scorpios kept their combat skills honed by squeezing in practice dives and tactical sorties whenever possible. As the conflict looked imminent, Scorpios were on standby, with two aircraft always armed and ready to launch at the drop of a hat. Back in 1962, hill flying was severely restricted as neither the Govt nor the IAF expected to fight an enemy in the mountains. No SOPs existed for operations at high altitude pertaining with heights to fly, dive angles, weapon release heights, escape routes, weather impact in afternoon operations, range / endurance versus weapon loads, search / rescue, helicopter support etc. 

On 20 October 1962, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched two attacks, 1000 kilometers apart. In the Western theatre, the PLA sought to expel Indian forces from the Chip Chap valley in Aksai Chin while in the Eastern front, the PLA sought to capture both banks of the Namka-Chu river. The United States and the United Kingdom supported India's response while the Soviet Union was preoccupied with the Cuban Missile Crisis and did not have spare reserves to offer similar support it had provided in the previous years. 
By the evening of 20 Oct 1962, the news about the Battle of Namka-chu river became news. The Squadron prepared itself adequately for conduct of CSFO missions in the support of the Army despite the difficulties of operations at high altitude. The Scorpios were ready for war, but were only called upon to undertake a few recce missions. Airpower was not used to its full potential in the conflict and was restricted only towards Intelligence gathering. The recce missions also became rare, as very soon the orders to halt such missions were issued by the Air Force.  It must be borne in mind that such orders in those days of limited communication took a fair amount of time to reach field units. Even when the fighters were withdrawn from action the helicopter and transport fleet of the Indian Air Force remained involved in the action. They were undertaking round the clock supply drop and casualty evacuation missions. Due to acute shortage of helicopter pilots during the time, six pilots from the Squadron were attached to various helicopter units to undertake second pilot duties. The unit thus remained involved even when the role of IAF was limited. Cease fire was declared by China on 20 Nov 1962 and there was a gradual de-escalation of troops from the disputed areas. The Scorpios also started their return journey back to their parent location on 23 Nov 1962.
Visitors Today : 3052
Total Visitors : 281504
Copyright © 2021 Indian Air Force, Government of India. All Rights Reserved.
phone linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram